What is the Difference Between Cleaning, Disinfecting, and Sanitizing?

You may have seen the assurances of countless companies attempting to strengthen your trust in patronizing them during the 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic by expressing in detail how your health and safety is their top priority…

What is the Difference Between Cleaning, Disinfecting, and Sanitizing?

…and you might have even tried to ensure that the environment in which you live while isolating yourself in your home is as free of harmful microbes as possible — but what exactly is the difference between cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing? Even more important is which process is best for you; and what is the proper way to implement each method?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides the definition for each as follows:

  • Cleaning removes germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces or objects. Cleaning works by using soap — or detergent — and water to physically remove germs from surfaces. Although this process does not necessarily kill germs, cleaning reduces the amount of germs and the risk of spreading infection by removing those germs.
  • Disinfecting kills germs on surfaces or objects by the use of chemicals. Although this process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, disinfecting can further lower the risk of spreading infection by killing germs on a surface after cleaning.
  • Sanitizing lowers the number of germs on surfaces or objects to a safe level, as judged by public health standards or requirements. This process works by either cleaning or disinfecting surfaces or objects to lower the risk of spreading infection.

Summary

Remember that washing your hands thoroughly and properly is equally as — if not more — important as cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing the environment in which you live, work, and breathe in order to stave off an infection by a virus or other microbe.

Be sure not to overdo the cleaning, disinfecting, or sanitizing process. That can potentially reduce the effectiveness of each process; and you want to ensure that whatever products are used in each process are used properly to avoid potential danger.

This article is the latest in a series pertaining to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus — which is also known as COVID-19 or 2019-nCoV or SARS-CoV-2 — pandemic in an effort to get the facts out with information derived from reliable sources…

…as well as attempt to maintain a reasoned and sensible ongoing discussion towards how to resolve this pandemic.

Other articles at The Gate which pertain to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus include:

Photograph ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

One thought on “What is the Difference Between Cleaning, Disinfecting, and Sanitizing?”

  1. Harry Peters says:

    Useful. Thank you and stay safe!

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